Is The Death Penalty Appropriate In Florida?
If you are facing capital charges in the Sunshine state, you know that your life is literally on the line. The debate over whether a life sentence without parole is a better outcome than a state-sponsored execution for such convictions continues into 2022. A look at the arguments in favor of and against capital punishment seems apropos.
Arguments in Favor of the Death Penalty
Gallop polls report that over half of Americans favor the death penalty, particularly in cases involving murder convictions. The reasons given for this support are varied:
- It is seen as a deterrent to crimes such as homicide.
- Retribution is only fair after a horrendous crime.
- Some view it as cheaper than keeping a prisoner alive for a lifetime.
- It is viewed as a convicted felon’s “just desserts.”
- It has Biblical support in the concept of “an eye for an eye.”
- It provides closure for families whose loved ones have suffered at the hands of the defendant.
- It is believed there is no chance of rehabilitating such a criminal.
- Once killed, an executed prisoner can never reoffend.
Arguments Against the Death Penalty
Opponents of capital punishment have vociferous arguments as well. Florida, and the country at large, must consider some hard facts when it comes to the death penalty:
- Wrongful convictions are plentiful: there have been 30 exonerations of death row inmates here in Florida in the last half-century—or about one exoneration for every three executions. Across the country, the number of exonerations following wrongful convictions that resulted in the death penalty approaches 200—and these are the cases that have been discovered. How many more have gone unnoticed?
- Many factors contribute to exoneration: Jurisdictions with a history of police and/or prosecutorial misconduct have the highest rate of exoneration, and DNA evidence was a factor in well over half of cases. In some cases, an inadequate defense contributed to the exoneration, while in others perjury or false accusations were the primary reason a death row inmate was exonerated. Sometimes a false confession, often due to coercion, led to a wrongful conviction, and sometimes there was simply insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict.
- Racial bias: Not only are prosecutors three times more likely to seek the death penalty for Black and brown people; 75 percent of those exonerated while on Death Row are people of color.
- The death penalty is expensive: between the costs of the trial, appeals, and incarceration in special housing, it costs taxpayers much more than a life sentence would.
- It diminishes the value of human life: how can taking a life ever be justified?
- It is not a deterrent: If it stopped others from committing murder, we wouldn’t have had upwards of 22,000 murders in this country in 2021 alone.
- It puts the United States in the company of despot nations: The countries who lead the world in executions include China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and the United States.
- It doesn’t undo the crime: While vengeance is a human emotion, getting “even” for a murder doesn’t bring back a life lost.
At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, our dedicated Miami criminal defense attorneys believe that justice matters. If you are facing serious felony charges, you need aggressive, hard-hitting attorneys on your side fighting for the best possible outcomes for you. Contact our office for a confidential consultation today. You will not be disappointed.